Sunday, October 24, 2004


An interesting though hardly representative case of the reactions of red country to a Kerry-Edwards t-shirt vs. those of blue country to a Bush-Cheney one. Snippets:
In my Kerry-Edwards shirt, I enter Red America certain that I am on the verge of inciting to rage a gang of angry yachtsmen who would soon be strapping me and my lefty leisurewear to their mizzenmast. Instead, I encounter only shades of indifference—head shaking, "crazy idiot" expressions from older, very wealthy, very white folks in Newport Beach; terse nods from the middle- to working-class citizens of Bakersfield, which seem to indicate that people here have much bigger things to worry about than whatever is on my stupid T-shirt. In Bakersfield, surprisingly, there's little indication that we are near the eve of an election: I see a total of two campaign bumper stickers, one for Bush and one Kerry, and one elderly lady with a huge Bush button pinned to the jacket of her pantsuit. Despite a recent visit from Dick Cheney, presidential politics seems to have bypassed Bakersfield, and the locals are not about to let a mere T-shirt drag them into the muck.

Dressed to impress in my Bush-Cheney T-shirt, tote bag, and "W." button, I first stop at Silverlake's Über-cafe, the Coffee Table. "The Table," as it is known, is the daytime HQ for the area's writing community—the bed-headed brigades of aspiring indie auteurs who hunch over their laptops, whispering pitches back and forth like state secrets. I stand in line for a soda; my T-shirt first makes contact with the locals as the server, a rather prim-looking Asian-American man, double-takes at my unabashedly partisan display, his smile freezing into a look I can only describe as bracing for me to pull out an assault weapon and open fire. I order, pay, and walk with my Diet Coke through the restaurant, taking a seat on the patio that puts me and my garb on prominent display for the 20 or so patrons. A wave of distressed glances ripples in my direction, but I remain unmolested. Yet as I finish my soda, two hipsters saunter past. One of them, untucked shirt hanging over his jeans, gapes at my shirt and mutters, "Asshole," only slightly under his breath.
Again, not terribly representative but interesting nonetheless.

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